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Cass County Jail in need of new HVAC system

CASSAPOLIS, Mich. – The Cass County Jail requested money for a new HVAC system, hoping it could fix a long-standing heating issue within the building.

A plow truck  and piles of snow are reminders that it’s winter in Cass County. But look behind the snowflakes, what doesn’t belong?

Open windows. It’s a constant reminder of the ongoing issue the Cass County Jail is facing. Photos showing an aging, 30-year-old HVAC system that’s past it’s prime and can no longer properly heat the Cass County Jail .  

“It pulls outdoor air and if we don’t catch it in time, it pulls too much outdoor air.” said Cass County Building and Grounds Director Dave Dickey. “If we don’t shut down in time it doesn’t pull in enough air.”

This is leaving workers and inmates too hot or too cold.

“Between 60 and 90… at times we had been between those numbers,” said Dickey.

Dickey said Cass County cannot ignore this problem any longer.

“It’s functional but not ideal,” said Dickey.

Dickey and Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke said it hasn’t affected inmates within the jail too much.

“We have to respond with an extra blanket or something like that,” said Behnke.

But for employees in the administrative part of the building, it’s a different story.

“When you come into work and it’s  hot, you gotta open up the windows, it’s hard to work in that environment, or vice vesa, you gotta put on some layers of clothing on because it’s too cold.”
said Behnke. “It just affects the morale of the employees.”

But a new HVAC system comes at a hefty cost. Dickey originally priced the new system at $96,000, but two weeks ago at a Cass County Commissioners meeting, he pulled that estimate off the table and said the quote wasn’t accurate.

“That was partially my fault,” said Dickey. “It was really only a budgetary number.”

Dickey doesn’t have a new price yet, but said the cost could range plus or minus 10 percent from the original quote of $96,000, meaning it could be between $85,000 and $105,000.  However, it’s a price worth it for the those who work in the county jail building.

“It needs to be upgraded and brought up to modern times,” said Behnke.

Dickey said because he doesn’t have a price, there’s no date on when the Cass County Commissioners will vote on this. However, he said he hopes to have it presented and voted on by the commission’s March 1 meeting.

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